Date =                           1st October 2017

Run Number =             1757                                                                                                                                     

Venues =                      The Three Horseshoes

Location:                      Hooks Cross

Beer =                            Mac’s Riverside Ale, Country, AK

Hares =                         Sludge

Runners =                    10

Virgins =                       0

Visitors =                      0

Newies =                       0

Après =                          1

Hounds =                      0

Total =                          11

Membership =              Almost out of Ale!



             A dull morning after a previous day of showers was a precursor to this Trail having a low turnout & so it proved to be, not only this but Herts County Council are busy improving the A602 which meant diversions around the roadworks in several places along its route. 

The Hare came scuttling back from across the A602 with ten minutes to go before the off, only to find only My Lil’, Paxo & Mr X in the car park, not a sight he had expected to see & it looked as if it would be the lowest turnout for years.  But never fear as Ketchup arrived with Prince Garmin & his cousin, as well as Lobby Lobster, then Mumblehead was followed in by Sparky, making a grand total of Ten!

The GM was delayed with Horse Duties this morning, so Paxo did the honors with the introductions, then it was over to the Hare.  Sludge mentioned that in honour of the Willow 10K, which no one was now entered in that morning, there was a 10K route & a shorter 6K option! There were a few doubting grumbles on hearing this, but these gave way to more pleasant cheers as Short Cuts were mentioned.

Just as the Pack were about to set off Paxo made an announcement that he was coming out & would ‘no longer be running’ on the Hash, My Lil’ was quick to get a “Have you ever r*n on the Hash?” but Paxo continued that he would now become a fully paid up member of the knitting circle each week! [Thought he already was? – Ed] Paxo wanted to let the others know that he is no longer up for standing-in at the last minute & setting a ‘Live Trail’! 

Paxo also mentioned that there could be an appearance by Fartin Martin après to this Trail!  Also he added that TBT OBE had fallen ill after his Flu-jab, that he had after coming back from his French holiday with the Hare & Hounds Hash [No wonder he was sucking up to them about the quality of their website! – Ed]

The Pack now had to negotiate the A602 for the first time, a feat not made easy while laughing at the sight of Sparky who had adorned an old Cycling Helmet!  Wiping tears from their eyes the Pack negotiated this hectically busy road just a few yards to where a CHK was found by a gate into the meadow.

There were two options on the other side of the hedgerow, one to run over to the southern tip of Astonbury wood which no one took to, & the second to go along the edge of the Stevenage Brook that flows along the northeast edge of the Hedgerow along the A602.  Here the Dust was found along the path of long damp grass.

As the Pack progressed in a northwesterly direction a fence began on the right-hand side with the brook still on the left as its course moved away from the noise of the hectic road.  On the way Mr X looked over to see the section of old wall that sits within the scrubby area that is cordoned off due to having some deep pits or swallow holes within, this may have been to do with the old Station XII work during the Second World War?

The Trail left side of the enclosed wet lush grassy area & came out in to the Bragbury End Training Ground, which for those who are regular readers will know that the West German 1966 World Cup Tea practiced before losing in the final, it didn’t look that used these days, at least it now saw Hash boots making their way over the fairly long grass for a sport pitch & up through a gap in the wooden railed fence that runs around the southwestern edge of the Astonbury Wood.

A CHK was found on the fenced-in path, My Lil’ was straight on to the correct route up toward a farm field to the north, Mr X & Ketchup agreed that if Sparky was to paint his helmet [Whoa there Pebbledash! – Ed] white with red spots he could be mistaken for one of Super Mario Mushrooms!

On the way out of the fenced in section of path Ketchup stopped as Jaron’s cousin wouldn’t be keen on the clumps of nettles around the style.  The RA’s words of “They don’t sting in the wet!” wouldn’t cheer this kid up.

My Lil’ & Sparky were now making their way straight over the farrowed field, but they stopped around halfway as they ran out of Dust, their turning back which allowed Mr X to check out the ‘dog-walkers route’ around the outer perimeter of the field.

The RA now picked up the Trail as it ran along by the northwestern edge of the Astonbury wood, My Lil’ & Sparky followed on, closely followed by Ketchup & the two Horrors, these FRBs would now begin a traipse around three edges of the field as a loop took them around by Aston Bury House, then away from the rough clinging loam to come out on to the driveway by the Elizabethan Red-brick House.

Sparky was soon running blind as he searched up the driveway toward the House, Mr X on the other hand had already spotted the pretty obvious Dust in the opposite direction toward west, there was also a prominent footpath sign down there, the very one which the SCBs of Lobby Lobster, Mumblehead, Paxo & the Hare were making their way across the field toward, on the path both Sparky & My Lil’ were on earlier.  The SCBs came out on to the drive & turned to the west, where the exit on to Aston Lane was.

The Hare warned the Horrors to watch the road as the Pack approached this entrance, which turned out to be very prophetic words as a plonker of a driver came flying around the corner way too fast & was not expecting to see anyone out on the drive, the driver nearly lost it as he baulked at the sight of the Pack.

The Horrors heeded the next words of advice as the Trail took to Aston Lane in its northbound direction, this was indeed it was best to stick with the right-hand side of the narrow lane as a couple of vehicles came along from either direction, but they could see the ones coming toward them. 

A shout of “On! On!” from Sparky brought a reply of “Shut the F*ck up!” from a party of four overweight golfers peasants in a golf buggy on the other side of the hedgerow toward seven year old kids was a bit out of order, seems you can take the Golf Club out of Stevenage, but you can’t take Stevenage out of its members!

For the Hash it was only a short way up to a point where the Trail would head off to the left & take to a path through Lady’s wood, though Sparky, My Lil’ & Ketchup all passed by this marked path into the wood & ran around the outside of the trees on the fairways’ edge, no doubt annoying the golfers by doing so?

Sparky did however get back on to the correct Trail when he stopped inside Lady’s Wood to ‘Scare the Squirrels’ & with his back to the RA he then had the cheek to accuse Mr X, who was on the correct path, of short cutting!

The footpath progressed across the golf complex, heading toward the Club House before veering over before the car park & heading northwest to the wooded area beside Broadwater Lane, once inside the wooded edge a CHK was found on the cinder like paths between the trees.  While My Lil’ & Sparky went wrong here, Ketchup found the correct option heading nor-nor-eastward among the trees & then turning slightly to the west as it came out of the shrubs & trees to the edge of Broadwater Lane.

A CHK was found in this gap opposite the T junction where Dene Lane leads northward off of Broadwater Lane, Mr X remained at the CHK to make sure the two Horrors were being minded, as there was plenty of traffic heading along Broadwater lane in & out of Aston. 

Sludge arrived & he said he would stay behind waiting for Jaron & his cousin, this was also a rouse to fool Mr X in to following on behind My Lil’, Sparky & Ketchup as they had all gone down Dene Lane as it runs northward by the edge of Aston Dene, only to find a Bar CHK!

Mr X hadn’t progressed far enough to get caught out as badly as the others, so he had time to find the footpath that cuts off the wooded corner, to lead in to the edge of Aston, passing by St Mary’s church.  Aston House once stood opposite the Church, this was later demolished, but during the Second World War the House was Special Operations Executive Station XII, this section specialized in explosive & sabotage devices.  Col Leslie Wood, Commanding Officer of Station XII reveal that a lot more went on at Aston House, Research, development & testing of explosives, including special weapons was carried out at Aston.

Col Wood said, "We invented, made supplied and trained personnel in the use of 'toys' not only for the Resistance but for all the Special forces. Commandos, Small Boat Section, Airborne Division and Long Range Desert Patrol. We had about 40 specialized army officers and civilians, guards, and several hundred soldiers, FANY's and ATS and a few civilian technicians. We had magazines for explosives and sheds in which to handle them and large store houses for incendiaries and all the rest of our 'toys' and workshops wherein to experiment and manufacture.

We designed and made up special explosive charges tailored for the job in hand and simple to place and fire by any Commando or Resistance worker.  Many tons of explosives as well as the devices we supplied were dropped by parachute to the resistance to blow bridges on D Day. 

The whole essence of helping the Special Forces was speed in both invention and supply.  Some of this may sound a little grim, but I can truthfully say that we regarded the whole thing completely impersonally and as tremendously funny, the more hideous the devices we invented and made to confound the enemy- the funnier we thought it.  The same gaiety of spirit imbued the Commandos. I met nearly all the leaders and many of their officers and men when they came to Aston for last minute briefing and training in demolitions just before a raid.  Most of what we did was bloody hard work but I will also tell you about the fun we had"

The Trail ran on to a CHK opposite the Cricket Ground.  The RA was straight over to this corralled green space, there he picked up the Trail as it lead southward straight over to the gate out on to Stringers Lane, by this exit was a bag hanging from one of the horse-chestnut tree’s branches & it wasn’t clear if it contained conkers or dog’s eggs?

Directly across from the gate on to Stringers Lane was a CHK, on the step up in to the green verge embankment, My Lil’ was quickly away toward the end of the line of houses on this raised edge, while Sparky checked it out down towards the Bennington Road.

Sparky’s progress was curtailed when a shout of “On!” was called from My Lil’ as he found the Dust heading southeastward along the drive like lane that runs by Astonbury Farm, it was noticed on the way out by homes another plastic bag was seen hanging from a tree, this one contained a pair of spectacles, Mr X was surprised that Sparky didn’t have these to replace his broken pair after his fall in Hitchin?

 The Trail followed the Lane on down by the factory units that occupy this area.  Calls of “Hold the Next Check!” now rung out from behind the Keenies.  The Pack were now approaching Astonbury for the second, not far from the Red-brick Elizabethan House they were beside earlier!  The Dust took the left hand fork at the Y shaped junction, Mr X called out to My Lil’ to “Hold the Next Check!” but his words fell on ‘deaf ears’ as the Hash Beer Master was well on his way down the east bound Frogmore Lane, though Mr X didn’t quite believe that he couldn’t be heard!

The CHK was held by Mr X, & for a short while Sparky & Ketchup who then carried on after My Lil’, while the RA & the Hare again made sure both of the Horrors were chaperoned along the Hash, this time on a Short Cut.  For the FRBs the Trail would now be a long all tarmac trot as in the distance Frogmore Lane turned toward the south at an elbow to descend down Frogmore Hill as the lane gentle turned on a shallow arc, as it headed back to the A602 on a long trot Sparky was the only one falling for the CHKs at the footpath by the elbow on the top of the hill & then the side road eastward toward White Hall Farm.

Meanwhile the SCBs took the southbound Track from Astonbury along the edge of the farmland to the tip of the eastern edge of Astonbury Wood, there was an information board by this entrance that claimed it was ‘Stevenage’s Hidden Gem’, which was fairly accurate as there were a couple of good paths within.

 Within the wood the home bound path for the SCBs was the one that turned southeasterly at the junction off of the southwest bound one that they entered the woodland on.  The SCBs route Inn had plenty of everything for them to enjoy, a downhill trot amongst the trees, patches of nice Shiggy then out by the solitary farm house by the A602, to turn right & head a few yards up to the On Inn.

However it didn’t matter which way the Hash came in as both for options when the two Trails joined up there was a long wait to get back over the busy road, it took an age before some of the Hash could cross & make their way up to get changed.

The returning Pack found Flanders had arrived, as had the GM but of the two only Ewok was keen enough to head off to do the first CHK, as Mr X said, when she had asked how far this was, “It only across the road, but it’ll take you 20 minutes to get a break in the traffic & reach it!”  These words failed to put Ewok off & so she headed out of the car park as the rest homed-in on the Bar.

The Three Horseshoes is really just a restaurant these days, with only two leather sofas available as a little enclave for non-diners which was soon commandeered by the Pack.  Sludge went off & brought some chairs over, while those at the Bar were stumped as what to have to drink.

The Riverside Ale, a craft looking Ale which is by Mac’s under a different looking badge, maybe to fool the uneducated drinker in to thinking it was a guest Ale, was off!   Then the Country went, leaving only AK!  Unless you did a Ketchup & Mr X & ordered a bottle of Strong Hart, a quality Season Ale & it seems Christmas came early for these two! 

Perhaps that is why the Hash haven’t been back here since Farts set a Trail from there many years ago, maybe this was why there was no sign of Fartin Martin.

With the lack of Ales, as well as a small Pack, the Down-Downs were put off to the following week, by which time more tales of Paxo’s tank driving, & breaking a tank, would have come to light!